We had a special interview with the director of Art Stage Singapore, Mr. Lorenzo Rudolf.
─This is our first time to visit Singapore, and we found the weather really nice and comfortable. So do you hold this fair every January because of this nice climate?
Lorenzo: Yes, but that’s not the main reason. We checked the international calendar if there is any other important events such as Basel art fairs going on. Moreover, you are here in between Christian and Chinese New Year. So people can travel. That’s the main point to set the fair in January.
─The walls are so high that it’s clearer to see all those artworks.
Lorenzo: Whenever you hold an art fair, you have to try to show the artworks in the best position. We always try to do so, so you can get as close as possible just as having a presentation at a museum because that’s the best way you can show the works.
─We also really liked the Indonesian pavilion because it was powerful and amazing.
Lorenzo: Me too!
─So why did you focus on Indonesia in particular?
Lorenzo: If you do a fair in Singapore, I think that that is one concept to say you support what’s going on in Indonesia. But if you do a fair in Singapore, you are in middle of South East Asia. And I think there’s only place to show. Also, Indonesian art and art market is the strongest in South East Asia. That’s why we made the special feature in Indonesia this year.
─Indonesian economy is growing and becoming strong.
Lorenzo: Indonesian pavilion attracts Indonesian collectors. Indonesian economy is growing, which means that Indonesian collectors are so powerful that they come to the fair to go to, for example, Japanese galleries to buy Japanese arts. Probably Indonesian collectors are the strongest in Asia. But Indonesia is just a part of the fair. We can see a lot of other part of Asian galleries such as Japanese galleries, too.
─So the main key is to have an interaction between international collectors and artists.
Lorenzo: I think an international art fair like here is clearly a market place but also a place to get together or match make. That’s the reason we bring not only collectors in Asia, but also artists and galleries. They can build up relationships and friendships to deal with each other. I think that a fair like this is a matchmaking platform rather than a platform of galleries. Particularly in Asia, it’s so fragmented; you have many national markets. But we can bring them together here.
─Art Stage Singapore this time is the third one. Is there a significant change among collectors?
Lorenzo: We have seen a significant and interesting increase in both the number and diversity of collectors attending the fair, with more collectors coming to the fair from all over the world. Many important international collectors were at the fair, and many buyers from international institutions too. This is testament to the quality of work, which galleries are exhibiting, the increase in interest in Southeast Asian art and artists, and Art Stage Singapore’s position as an important international arts hub. Singapore’s arts infrastructure, such as the Freeport, and the new cluster of private galleries at Gillman Barracks have also contributed significantly to Singapore’s position as a growing and important destination for art collectors and enthusiasts.
─How many galleries applied this time at the first place? And what kind of roles do you expect the Western galleries to play?
Lorenzo: Art Stage needs to strike a balance between offering and supporting the best Asian art, and complementing this with top quality international art from galleries originating from the rest of the world. Art Stage Singapore is an international fair, but also a fair that shows art in context, which is why 75% of the exhibitors at this year’s fair come from the Asia pacific region. About 60 percent of the galleries at the fair are returning exhibitors, and we only accept between 60 – 70 percent of applications to the fair. So it is important for us to keep the quality of galleries high, and keep our galleries and collectors happy.
─What are you going to do with this art fair from next time as the art fair Hong Kong is going to be Basel Hong Kong?
Lorenzo: I think Basel will be very important for Asia because it brings a lot of international galleries. And I think it’s good to have a fair like that, which is global and have a lot of Western galleries. On the other hand, we didn’t want ours to be a western art fair and we wanted to support Asian galleries because they needed an urgent support to take an action. So the concept is totally opposite. It’s not the competition. And that’s the best way here in Asia to do international fairs which have different concepts.
─Can you tell us about Art Stage +?
Lorenzo: I think that the Internet is going to be more important in the future. And I think it’s more important in Asia than in Europe and America because they have more important Internet acceptance; however, art fairs have a physical limit. So we put them virtually on the Internet. We have a worldwide promotion of the fair itself, galleries and artists so you can see them wherever you are on your smartphone, laptop or iPad. You open it and you can see the fair. But it’s also interactive; you can even contact with the galleries. And you can also extend the market. It’s not only an extension of the art fair itself but also it is for all the galleries, artists and even for the collectors who cannot come can join and even buy the works at the fair.
─And finally, Collectors Show at Singapore Art Museum is the third time as well, so how did people in Singapore and collectors like it?
Lorenzo: I really enjoyed the exhibition, and everybody I spoke to about it also had a very good time. It’s important for the art scene in Singapore to host and exhibit such events and we are delighted to have such support from the Singapore Art Museum.
─Thank you very much for this precious interview!
Lorenzo: Thanks a lot!
(Jan 26th, 2013 at Marina Bay Sands Convention Center)